The 2014 Arimaa Challenge

Humans win 7-2

Human defenders:
Fritz Juhnke, Max Manual and Samuel Schueler with Omar Syed as backup.

Computer challenger:

Screening Games

Challenge Games

The challenge: The first person, company or organization that develops a program which can defeat the top human Arimaa players in an official Arimaa challenge match before the year 2020 will win the Arimaa challenge prize. The prize is currently $12,000 USD. The official challenge match will be between the current best program and three selected human players.

Challenge details: The Arimaa challenge match will consist of 9 games using the 2m/6m/100/0/8h/6m time control. Each of the three players will play a three game series against the program. The program must demonstrate that it can win at least two of the three games against each of the human players to win the challenge. The program can select which color to play in the first game and the remaining games will be played with alternating color. All games are played according to the Arimaa Match Rules. The games will be played over the Internet in the Arimaa gameroom and will be viewable by the public while they are in progress. The best program will be running on the same computer system as that used in the computer championship games. It will be run under the control of the match coordinator with guidance from the match director. The director may send a representative to be present with the human player during the games. The director may also use a webcam to monitor the human player during the games. A representative from the best program may also be present with the human player. The human player may use an aid such as a physical game board or a computer program so that pieces can be moved to assist in planning a move. No aid may be used which suggests a move or provides any information about the move aside from the position score defined in the Arimaa match rules. The human player must be isolated from discussions of the game while the game is in session. Between games the human players may study the past games. The best program may not be manually altered during or between the challenge games. Also it cannot be manually altered between the computer championship games and the start of the challenge match. If requested the program can be allowed to run in between the games so that it can study the past games and modify itself as long as this is an automated function.

Challenge schedule: No more than one game will be played per day by any one player. The three players will alternate so that one player has not played two or more games than another. The program team must notify the tournament director what color they wish to play in the first game before start of the match. The selected players must also submit their schedule to the tournament director before the start of the match. The exact schedule specifying the dates times and the player for each game will be determined and posted shortly before the match begins.

Hardware and OS: The hardware and OS that will be used in the Arimaa challenge will be the same as that used in the computer championship. The hardware will typically be a standard general purpose computer that can be purchased within $1000 USD. The OS used for the Arimaa challenge will be a version of the Linux OS.

Selection of the best program: The two programs which finished first and second in the 2014 World Computer Championship will compete in a preliminary for the right to play in the Arimaa challenge match. The two programs will be made available online for humans to play against for a duration of at least two weeks and not more than four weeks. This is referred to as the screening period. Any human player that wants to play against the programs must play both programs equally in terms of number of times and color. A human player must not play more than two times against either program and no more than one time with the same color. Thus, if a human player plays program A as gold, the player must then play program B as gold. The program which has a better record after the screening period will go on to play in the challenge match. In case of a tie the program which won the computer championship will go on to play in the challenge match. The games will be played using the 2m/6m/100/0/8h/6m time control.

The human players that will be playing in the challenge match must not play against the programs during this time. Also developers of the two programs may not play the programs during this time. The match director may disqualify the games of any player if it appears that a game was intentionally lost in order to distort the standings.

Selection of the human players: Omar and Aamir Syed will choose three human players that will play in the challenge match against the best program. The players will be chosen from among the top rated Arimaa players. A first and second backup player will also be chosen so that if any of the main players is not able to play any of the games, the backup players can substitute. The name of the human players and backup players will be submitted to the match director before the start of the computer championship. The names of these players will be announced publicly after the computer championship tournament is completed.

Intent of the challenge: The main intent of the Arimaa challenge is to promote research in AI, which can help to advance the field and potentially have applications in other areas. Some areas of AI that would be involved depending on the approach taken include pattern recognition, machine learning, neural networks, evolutionary algorithms, and expert systems. It is hoped that in the processes of achieving the Arimaa challenge some new techniques are developed in one or more of these areas that can also be applied to other problems. The Arimaa challenge is designed to be met if significant progress is made in software and not from the advances in hardware, which are almost guaranteed. As such the challenge will define the hardware and OS to be used and participants need only to develop the software.

Advancing the state of the art: As mentioned above the intent of the Arimaa challenge is to help advance research in areas of AI. Thus, it is recommended that the participants (especially those with programs in the computer tournament) submit articles to the ICGA technical journal describing their research and results. If a program wins the Arimaa challenge, it must be described in a paper submitted to the ICGA technical journal after winning the challenge in order to receive any prize.

Technical Problems: Technical failures on during challenge match games will be remediated as follows:

  1. Once a player has started the next game of the player's series, the results of previous games in the player's series can't be altered, no matter what issue is discovered.
  2. If it is determined during a game that either bot or human player has suffered a disadvantage, the game will be immediately halted, made unrated, and resumed from the point at which the disadvantage first occurred. The game must be halted regardless of whether the disadvantaged player is winning or losing.
  3. If it is determined after a game is over, but before the next game of the player's series, that either bot or human player has suffered a disadvantage, the game result will be invalidated, the game will be made unrated, and the game will be replayed from the point at which the disadvantage first occurred. The game must be replayed whether the disadvantaged player won or lost.
  4. Disadvantages that warrant a game being halted and/or replayed include, but are not limited to:
    1. Extraneous processes running on the bot's server
    2. The game server failing to receive a move sent by a bot or human player
    3. Either bot or human player not receiving a move sent by the game server
    4. A bot being restarted mid-move by the tournament server
    5. A bot being misconfigured by the tournament coordinator
  5. The tournament director decides whether technical failures not on this list warrant halting and/or replaying games.
  6. When restarting games from a specific position, the tournament coordinator will attempt to restore the clock state (reserve times and game time) as closely as possible to the state at the time the issue occurred.


Match Coordinator: Omar Syed

Match Director: TBD

Event Reporting: TBD

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